KU Engineering College’s Maiden Hatch Caught Between Politics and Money

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

University of Kashmir

With an aim to give students of valley ample opportunities to pursue their dreams, the University of Kashmir some years ago planned to establish its own engineering college. With building infrastructure yet to be completed, the KU authorities shifted one of the branches of engineering course to its
North campus.

Since the engineering campus at Zakura is ready and the teaching-learning process has already started there, the students allege that the authorities under the pressure from local politicians along with traders of Baramulla are scuttling the move.

Talking to Kashmir Life, a group of aggrieved students said that the “traders and locals of Baramulla areas are painting the move as an Urban-Rural divide issue”. “It is not the case,” one of the students said. He emphasized to remain anonymous fearing reprisals from the campus director.

The student said that the North Kashmir University campus “lacks academic atmosphere”. “Different Engineering branches are inter-linked and ironically, Computer Sciences engineering branch has been established in Delina, Baramulla while Electronics and Communications is being taught in Zakura campus now,” the student said explaining the relation between the different engineering branches. “Some subjects can be taught by the same faculty which would help in managing the human resource capacity of the varsity itself but it is not being done,” the students asserted.

The students said the engineering campus plan is fully established at Zakura, a few kilometers away from main Hazratbal campus. “Because the engineering branch was shifted to Zakura, the authorities,” the students added, “apparently did not add to the infrastructure in the North Kashmir University Campus.” They said that they lack requisite infrastructure. “We don’t have sufficient laboratories neither other required equipment,” they claimed adding, “if we were in main campus or at Zakura, we could have utilised the research equipment of other branches.”

What seems to be essentially a “trade affair”, the students said, “now when everything was ready, and we were that Computer Sciences branch would be shifted to Zakura, traders of Delina area  are up in arms against the move. “We are over 250 students and majority of us live in rented accommodations or in hostel which means business for them,” the students further said. “If we move away from here, it will have impact…”

The students alleged that traders are being supported by the local legislator from ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Javaid Baig. “In a recent meeting with Vice Chancellor KU, the North Kashmir KU campus director, Dr Irshad, spoke against shifting the campus; he rather left the meeting,” the students claimed. They added, “and in a while, the VC got a call from the MLA who told him: ‘I’ll myself burn tyres on Baramulla roads if the engineering campus is shifted’. The VC could not move ahead.”

The students further said, “recently the campus director got some news channel which interviewed those five students who are against shifting the college.” “We were shut in one single class room.”

And add more to it, the students said, “the campus director who resides in Baramulla itself is fighting the case on social networking sites as well. He is commenting and thanking people for the support,” the students alleged.

The students, who were in Srinagar to meet the KCSDS members to seek their help in the matter, said, “it is not any regional, class, or creed struggle which the locals are painting it with but the genuine demand of students.”

Notably, the Education Minister Naeem Akhtar told the state legislature last week that government is not taking any step to shift the college.

The KCSDS members revealed in the brief meeting that the Kashmir University is closing down such courses in its satellite campuses which are being taught in main campus at Hazratbal. “Skill Development Institute might be set up in North KU campus while a Nursing College is due in South campus,” one of the members said. “May be, evening classes will be started for the courses which are being taught this time in the satellite campus,” the members added.

When contacted, one of the senior ranking officials in the University of Kashmir said that if the Computer Sciences engineering branch is not shifted to Zakura campus, “the purpose of Science Block gets defeated”. “See, KU created such a huge infrastructure to let students utilise it and Zakura campus is exclusively for Science related activity and engineering is the important and essential part of it. If you place a single branch out of this place, what purpose it serves then,” the official asked.

The official said, “the incumbent Vice Chancellor has a vision for these satellite campuses to develop them as specialised ones. What is the need of running a course in these campuses if we offer the same one in main campus?” “We don’t want duplication of the courses. VC has made it a point. These campuses should be priority of students.”

When KU started processing the shifting of the engineering college to Zakura campus, the official added, the locals involved the local legislator and then the government. “See, the KU’s stand is clear to make its campuses specialised ones but we can’t do anything when government comes in.”

“When the KU received various representations about the matter, a committee was set up to look in to the matter,” the official said, “it is yet to submit its report, however, government has already told the state assembly that college won’t be shifted!”

The official accepted, “over 90% students want shifting of the campus.” “Their demand is genuine as a full-fledged engineering campus is established and working at Zakura and all facilities are there. How can you deny them their right place?”

If the Computer Sciences branch continues to run in Delina campus, resources are needed to establish a separate engineering college infrastructure then, as it demands the same. Students have already sighted this problem. “KU doesn’t have funds and it is irony on part of those who want it when we have an established engineering campus at Zakura,” the KU official added. The Kashmir University is soon starting 400 bedded hostels in Zakura campus as well.

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